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Fingerprint Time Clocks Pose Potential Problems for Employers

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Biometric information is becoming more prevalent in our society, from fingerprints that unlock cellphones to facial recognition programs that identify individuals in pictures based upon their facial features. Some Illinois employers are even utilizing technology such as time clocks that utilize and store biometric data such as fingerprints from employees. While some business owners may feel this technological advance prevents employees from being paid for time they do not actually work (as other employees will not be able to clock absent or tardy employees into work), these devices are also proving to be troublesome for employers due to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

A Brief Overview of BIPA and Problems It Poses for Employers

Passed in 2008, Illinois’ BIPA is one of the most stringent laws in the country requiring private companies, agencies, and other entities to obtain consent from individuals prior to collecting or storing biometric data like fingerprints and iris scans. BIPA will also control the content and timing of notices that must be given to individuals whose biometric data has been collected and/or is being stored. The BIPA allows aggrieved individuals whose biometric data is collected, stored, and/or disseminated in violation of BIPA to collect up to $5,000 per incident (less if the BIPA violation was not intentional).

Some employers in Illinois have been sued under BIPA by employees claiming their fingerprints were obtained and/or stored in violation of BIPA’s requirements. More specifically, these employees claim that their employers collected their fingerprint data for use in their employers’ time clocks without telling the employees that such data would be collected and/or how it would be used and stored.

Contact Your Illinois Employment Law Firm Today

While this development should not discourage employers from looking for ways to enhance the efficiency of their businesses and promote greater accountability amongst their workers, this story should give employers pause and encourage them to seek legal counsel from an experienced and knowledgeable Illinois employment law attorney before enacting such drastic changes. Doing so can help ensure your new idea does not cause unintended consequences for you and your business.

If you are struggling with an employment law issue that is plaguing your Illinois business, contact Goldman & Ehrlich as soon as possible for help. Call us at 312-332-6733 or complete our online contact form.